Why is young talent not flocking to the SDN/NFV world?
Many of us can agree that the networking world as we know it is changing. The adoption of programmable networks is not a discussion of “if” it will happen but “when”. It has been our experience that technology shifts of this magnitude occur about once a decade. Skill-sets and technology can very quickly become obsolete as the demand for new solutions scale rapidly. As a result, we experience a very significant resource gap that favors job applicants with relevant experience. In the 90’s when we went through the shift from voice to data networks if you had the acronym of “CCIE” next to your name, it automatically resulted in a $120,000 year salary. The voice guys scratched their heads…some made the adjustment and others did not. We often asked, “is this 26 year old with minimal experience worth this money?” We really didn’t have a choice. The market demand was irrefutable. Pure supply and demand.
Here we are today at the beginning of another transformation. I would have expected the graduating engineers to flock to this new world. We just aren’t seeing that yet. I speak with our Georgia Tech Co-ops and ask the question “why?”. We pay at market or above and we are an innovative and flexible company. Apparently the networking world is not as “sexy” as the “big data” opportunities. Yet when the co-ops come work with us they are shocked by the innovation and being a part of a real DevOps environment. These co-ops get the opportunity to drive real business change and they aren’t the “kids doing QA/config/documentation in the corner”, but become significant contributors to our company.
What we are doing IS sexy and it is important that as an industry we do a better job of explaining this to the prospective resource pool. The smart ones know that when you put Openstack, Tail-f, ODL, SDN, NFV on their resumé they have significant market value.
It is up to us to remain competitive in the market and become an environment that people want to stay long-term.